York lost one of its pioneers of civil rights.
Doris M. "Dorrie" Leader, 89, died Monday at her home in York.
Leader was a founding member of the York City Human Relations Commission and helped draft its original ordinance.
"The work she did ... we still see the benefit of it today," said Stephanie Seaton, the commission's executive director.
Leader, the wife of attorney Henry Leader, was cherished among local nonprofits for her decades of work, and had an award named after her in 1995 by the York YWCA Board of Directors because of her volunteer advocacy.
Henry described his wife of 66 years as someone who didn't just "do" charity work.
"Hers was not a one-time commitment. It was a lifetime commitment ... She lived this thing," he said.
Peers described her as someone who set the bar for their organization on how to lead and live. Her husband described her as someone who early on became very passionate about civil rights. When she became board president for York YWCA in the 1950s after they arrived from New Haven, Conn., she was a staunch supporter of desegregation; the YWCA at the time was for whites only. Soon, the YWCA started allowing black members, and the YMCA in town soon followed, Henry said.
"She felt it was simply wrong to discriminate," he said.
She described herself as a "lifelong professional volunteer," according to a 2002 letter she wrote detailing her lengthy community involvement.
Her most cherished moment, she wrote, was marching in Washington, D.C. in 1963, when she and two of her daughters, Martha and Libby, heard Martin Luther King Jr. speak.
Her volunteerism went well beyond the York County level. She was on the National Board of the YWCA for 18 years, was vice chairwoman for 12 years of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, was a board member of the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, and was as chairwoman of the Junior Leagues of Pennsylvania for the state public affairs committee, among other efforts.
"Dorrie was a force of nature when it came to selflessly serving her fellow Pennsylvanians. I've met few people more committed to equity and social justice than she was, and she didn't just talk about it - she acted on it," said Joan Benso, CEO of PA Partnerships for Children.
Locally, she was elected to the York City School Board in 1987 and was board president from 1993-1995, and was a former director and president of the York YWCA. She also was on the board of Planned Parenthood, Community Progress Council, Children's Home, Family Service, and was the first white woman on the Crispus Attucks board.
Her four daughters, including Emily, Libby and Martha Leader and Julie Leader-Smith, said their mother was a woman of few words - behind closed doors, she was quite humorous, they said - but when she spoke publicly, she did so with purpose and passion.
"When she spoke, what she said carried tremendous weight," Emily said.
Despite being the head of several board of directors, Henry said she never tried to push her status or views on anyone, and instead did everything "with a smile on her face." That was combined with Dorrie's "spine of steel" and not being afraid to right a wrong.
That included, as her daughters said with a laugh, being quick to correct anyone who used the phrase "spokesman" when they should have used "spokeswoman."
Public visitation will be held from 6-7 p.m. Sept. 21 at Kuhner Associates Funeral Directors, 863 South George St. in York. A public service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 22 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, 925 South George St. in York.